With movies like Shahid, Aligarh, Bose: Dead/Alive, Omerta and now a show, Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story, Hansal Mehta can very well be called the master of making amazing biographies. National Award-winning director seems to have found his strength in telling the stories based on real-life incidents. In 2018, in an interview with IANS, Mehta said “ I am glad if people also find such stories interesting, as I do. But it is not conscious. I have my individual voice and that reflects in my films. Not necessarily everything translates into acceptance, but I try to maintain my voice in the stories that I tell.” He believes films have made the audience lazy, that’s why he curates stories that provoke the audience to research more. Let’s have a look at his four biographies and how those left an impact on our minds.
Shahid recently marked its 7-year anniversary, the film tells the story of a lawyer and human rights activist, Shahid Azmi who was assassinated in 2010. Coincidentally, the title of the film sounds like “Shaheed” which means a martyr in Hindi and the film also tells a story about a man who sacrificed his whole life fighting for injustice. The film slowly explores how events of injustice shape an innocent man but his anger doesn’t compel him to take an unlawful route. Instead, he sets himself on a path to help others in fighting the injustice against them. Through its murky setting and heavy dependency on the ambient sounds, the film never feels like a cinematic drama but it definitely feels like an absolute reality rolling out in front of us.
Meanwhile, Omerta depicts similar circumstances, but here the protagonist, driven by hate and a sense of victimhood, sets himself on a road to take revenge for his “brothers and sisters.” Omerta tells the story of Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh who abducted Western tourists and also killed American Jewish journalist Daniel Pearl. Hansal Mehta views both Omerta and Shahid as “companion piece.” He wishes to combine both of them and show it as two sides of a coin. Unlike Aligarh and Shahid, this film doesn’t demand a sort of sympathy but it just tells a disconcerting tale of a terrorist in a docu-drama style. Omar’s thoughts are like a riveting thriller in itself and with a very limited explanation for his actions, we see how a middle-class boy of London becomes one of the deadly terrorists ever.
Aligarh is probably one of the most thought-provoking films ever made in Bollywood. It’s a tender portrait of a professor, Ramchandra Siras who died in 2010 after a video of him having sex with another man became public. A tale of love and loneliness. The film deeply explores the melancholy of a queer person in Indian society. Packed with the powerful performance of Manoj Bajpayee as a protagonist, the film puts you in the shoes of a man whose privacy is disrupted and instead of punishing the culprits, he is punished in various ways by the whole society.
On October 9th 2020, Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story was released and this SonyLIV series gained an overwhelming response. It is clearly one of the best series to release this year. Hansal Mehta with his son Jai Mehta directed the limited series. The show isn’t shy about jumping into details, it takes an ample amount of time to let us know the deep insights of the financial market as well as passionately tells the story of Harshad Mehta. Pratik Gandhi as the lead is spectacular and the series rolling itself from the perspective of a journalist really helps in forming the required structure for this type of story. The series at the end makes you feel Harshad Mehta definitely did many things wrong but so did many others, they got away and his life became the epitome of a scam. The system of the market is run by some dominant players and there’s no other way than to do a scam for an ambitious outsider.
“There is no love sincerer than the love of food.” Hansal Mehta began his career with a food show and now he has become a MasterChef of cooking brilliant stories based on real-life incidents. He is coming up with a mainstream sports drama “ Chhalaang” starring Rajkumar Rao and Nusrat Bharucha which will release on Amazon Prime Video on the 12th of November.